Distance: 10 kilometres
Time: Allow 4 hours for the round trip
Essential: Boots, food, water.
General Description: A circular walk that starts and finishes in Jimena de la Frontera, a typical white village, and takes you into the edges of the Alcornocales National Park and then follows the course of the river Horzgarganta past abandoned mills and finally an 18th century cannonball factory. April and May are the best months for this walk; you can expect to see hundreds of spring flowers.
Start and Finish: Car park in Jimena de la Frontera just below the village square.
From the car park walk out onto the main street and turn left. Go up through the town until you join the C3331 road to Ubrique. Cross the road and continue up a cobbled track. As you climb higher the best views are behind you back to Jimena with its castle on the skyline. The cobbles end and the track becomes rough. Continue up. The track levels and then descends slightly and then takes you up another short gradient to reach a metal gate. Pass through the gate and turn right on a broader track. Within metres you reach another gate across the track. A waymark sign on your left directs you uphill just before the second gate and you climb a rocky path with a fence on your right. Keep your eyes open here for orchids particularly the Sawfly orchid (Ophrys tenthredinifera).
After about 100 metres you reach a signpost and a sandy track. Turn left. This track takes you through mixed pine and oak woods. In the verges you will see spring bulbs flowering, crocus, star of Bethlehem and asphodel pushing their way through carpets of verdant green camomile that releases its powerful scent as you brush past. In spring the camomile produces its own white petalled, bright yellow centred flowers.
Stay on the broad track as it passes a ruined farm on your left and then loops downhill to join the C3331 road. Just before the gate that takes you onto the road a path takes you a few metres right to the Mirador Asomadillas overlooking the valley of the Hozgarganta. Just before the mirador a white marker shows you the continuing path where you turn right to a stile that takes you onto the road, which you cross, and another marker post indicates a path that winds steeply down the hill towards the river. The occasional marker post shows the way until you reach a wide forestry track. Turn left here. There has been much recent work within the woods with tracked vehicles creating new paths and widening the old. Stay on the most obvious track that leads down towards the river reassured by odd markers. Just before you reach the river that is now visible through the trees you pass through a gate with a Junta information board alongside.
Go through the gate and turn left for 50 metres. You will see concrete stepping-stones taking you across the first reach of the river to a rocky island. From the island a second flight of stepping-stones takes you to the far bank. The first few stones seem to have been washed away during the winter so you may get your feet wet or, as conditions were in mid March, have to strip off and wade across in waist high water.
On the far bank push through the oleander bushes to gain a sandy path where you turn left. This path follows the river with a couple of short diversions into side valleys. On both sides you will see the wonderful karstic formations on the ridges above and below the river has created stretches of wide sandy beaches in rocky coves. You eventually emerge at the edge of a field with a farm on the opposite side. A white marker post in the field to the left of the farm takes you to a wire and post gate that in turn takes you onto the riverbank where another set of stones take you across more or less dry shod depending on water levels. Walk up and a little to your right where you join a stony narrow path that takes you past a finca on your right.
The path continues with the river below and on your right until you reach a wide sandy bay that you cross. On the far side regain a track that takes you past a white house and down to a sign that explains how a mill works. The ruined mill is on your right. Past another sign similar to the first you soon reach a second mill, and another board. The path then becomes a well-worn, narrow track that had been used for centuries by donkeys and people working the mills. One section is across massive sandstone blocks where steps have been worn out over the years.
Other paths join from the left but you continue parallel to the river, past a pretty house called Huerta Mondeno where the path becomes a rough road. Just beyond a third ruined mill you come across a narrow, deep, canal. This was built in the 19th century to supply water to a set of bellows that fed a furnace in a cannon ball factory 650 metres further downriver. Many of the cannonballs were used during the Great Siege of Gibraltar. Stay on the unmade road as it takes you back into Jimena with the castle above on your left. The unmade road joins a proper road where you turn left and climb into the village. As this road crests a rise with views ahead towards the bottom of the village, turn left down a side street with Bar Tasca at the top of the car park visible ahead.
© Nicholas Craig Nutter 2004 - 2012. Nick Nutter asserts his rights as the author of this article and all associated images. This article and images may not be copied or reproduced in any way without written permission of the author.